Who: Haverford School vs. Malvern Prep
When: 7:00 Saturday, November 2, 2019
Where: Malvern Preparatory School
Records: Haverford School (5-3, 2-1); Malvern (3-5, 2-1)
Most Recent Performance: Haverford School defeated Penn Charter, 39-10; Malvern Prep dropped a 29-27 decision to Episcopal Academy.
Importance: These are the only two teams that can catch first-place Episcopal Academy. Then again, technically, there could ultimately be a five-way tie for the Inter-Ac crown if a zillion surprises occur over the next two weeks, but that’s . . . highly unlikely.
All-Time Record: Malvern Prep leads, 46-25.
Haverford School Notes: Because the Fords face Episcopal in the season finale, a victory both this week and next would assure, at minimum, a share of the Inter-Ac crown. Two wins and an EA loss this week to Germantown Academy would give the Fords their first outright title since winning consecutive crowns in 2014-15 . . . Buoyed by a suddenly fearsome defense top to bottom, the Fords are the only team in the league to hold the opposition to fewer than two touchdowns, accomplished two weeks straight in a 38-7 win over Germantown Academy and 39-10 victory over Penn Charter . . . With senior quarterback Dante Perri protected by a constantly improving line and a slew of weapons at his disposal, the Fords can strike quickly or embark on a long scoring drive.
Malvern Prep Notes: The Friars had a 12-game league winning streak snapped last week . . . A loss would mathematically eliminate the Friars from any possible title contention for the first time in four years. The Friars could still capture an outright crown if they win their final two while Episcopal loses its last two . . . Program hasn’t lost consecutive league games since 2012 (26-7 to Episcopal; 14-13 to Haverford School) . . . Junior quarterback Lonnie White is making a case for MVP honors, using both his arm and feet to move Malvern’s offense.
FORD CHAT: “This one is huge for us, and it is always a high energy game,” said junior safety/linebacker Geordy Holmes. “We know they have some playmakers and they have played good teams, so we are going to be prepared. Malvern always gives us their best, so in order to finish the season the way I know we can, it all starts Saturday night.”
“Malvern is a good football team,” said senior middle linebacker Pat Toal. “Playing them on the road is going to be a big test for us.”
FRIAR CHAT: “The game is important because it’s league play first of all, as well as a bounce back week for us,” said senior defensive back Tyler Tinson. “Haverford is considered a rival school for us, which makes it a pretty big game, too.”
“It’s a big game for us, not in terms of record, but team integrity,” said senior cornerback Caimin Hayes. “Our response in this game will show the true character of our team. Coming off a tough loss but continuing to fight is what is important.”
Prediction: Malvern is exceptionally difficult to beat at home, but Haverford School’s senior-dominated squad won’t be intimidated by a hostile venue. The Fords showed resolve rebounding from an early-season heartbreaker against Springside Chestnut Hill . . . If this were any other opponent, Haverford would possibly lose focus with Episcopal on the horizon, but that’s not going to happen . . . Malvern is often electric on offense, but the Friars have had an uncommonly difficult time on defense . . . This should go back and forth, but for the first time in seven seasons, Malvern falls short on back-to-back weeks as Haverford School wins, 31-24.
(John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)